THE Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) has said that suspected armed Fulani herdsmen have killed no fewer than 100 Atyap natives in the last six days.
The group said about 24 villages were also burnt and hundreds of hectares of farmland bearing growing food crops, destroyed.
SOKAPU Spokesman Luka Binniyat said this in a statement seen by The ICIR on Wednesday.
Binniyat said the armed gunmen, identified as Fulani herdsmen by victims, had laid siege on several communities in Atyap land, Zangon Kataf Local Government Area (LGA) of Southern Kaduna for the past six days.
He noted that the assailants had left no fewer than 33 people dead in what he described as “an ongoing genocide and land grabbing in which 108 Southern Kaduna communities have been displaced and taken over by them since 2019.”
He explained that in the latest orgy of bloodshed, the invaders stormed Magamiya village in the night around 11 pm and attacked the family compound of the traditional ruler of Atyap Chiefdom, Dominic Yahaya, looting other households of valuables and foodstuffs.
He further explained that the same assailants attacked Matyei village, burning 156 homes. The Catholic Church in Matei and its pastorium were also burnt, while the Catchiest, simply known as Catchiest Yau, and an infant, were killed in the attack, with six other persons killed in the violence that lasted for over an hour.
Binniyat said that the armed Fulani herdsmen then went down to Abuyab community, which was about 500 metres away, and burnt down Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA), the home of former Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) Field Commander Shekari Billyok.
He noted that their attempt to attack Runji community was repelled by villagers who got reinforcement elsewhere.
According to Binniyat, as the herders retreated, they attempted to destroy part of the main bridge linking the communities with Zangon Kataf town and other Atyap communities.
It said the same armed herdsmen came in Hilux vans and attacked the Atyap of Makarau and Kachechere communities, leaving 10 people dead, 12 houses burnt after looting them. He stressed that the ECWA and the Anglican Church pastorium serving the communities were set ablaze.
“Twenty Atyap natives were killed by attackers (who all the villagers that saw them) identified as armed herdsmen between afternoon and today’s morning, Tuesday, 13 July 2021.
“In the past 6 days, at least 33 Atyap natives of Zangon Kataf Area were massacred, 4 churches and 215 homes burnt by assailants always identified as armed herdsmen in a genocidal campaign that became so intensive since 2016.”
SOKAPU condemned what it described as “this wicked act and the complicit silence and inaction of government from taking steps to bringing the perpetrators and their leaders to justice.”
The statement said the Atyap people had been consistent in accusing the Hausa settlers of Zangon Kataf semi-urban town of harbouring killer herdsmen, saying that no authority had yet done anything about it.
SOKAPU called for humanitarian assistance for the thousands of displaced Atyap women and children who were still moving away from several villages to various places around Samaru Kataf, Zonkwa and environs.
SOKAPU also called on National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) to provide immediate relief materials to the displaced persons.
It called on the Nigerian Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International, the United Nations and all relevant international organisations to mount pressure on the Federal Government and the Kaduna State governments to stop the genocide in Atyap land and bring the culprits to justice.